The Campaign Lens: Madurai’s Transgender Candidate Kannamma

The Campaign Lens: Madurai’s Transgender Candidate Kannammafeatured

I

met transgender activist and independent Lok Sabha candidate Bharati Kannamma in Madurai last Wednesday, the day after the Supreme Court of India officially recognized transgender individuals as the country’s ‘third gender’.

Kannamma is a highly educated and popular figure, and is known for her social service to people living below the poverty line.

It was interesting for me to observe the campaign of an independent candidate who lives and works mostly on the fringes of our society. These pictures are my visual observations of her low-key campaign, where I was trying to gauge society’s acceptance of her.

 

Bharathi addressing prospective voters in Madurai's KK Nagar
Transgender activist and now independent candidate, Bharathi Kannamma addresses prospective voters in Madurai’s KK Nagar.

 

With supporters during her election campaign
Kannamma doesn’t hold rallies on large podiums but right outside the campaign car.

 

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The campaign mostly involved riding around in a car, appealing to voters from inside the vehicle and asking them to vote for change and equal rights for all. Kannamma and a friend enjoy a lighter moment.

 

A detail from her home.
Some of Kannamma’s possessions include this picture of Bill and Melinda Gates.

 

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Kannamma’s campaign has involved walking through Madurai and speaking to voters.

 

Bharathi Kannamma at her home, planning her campaign strategy with volunteers.
Bharathi Kannamma at her home, planning her campaign strategy with volunteers.

 

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Kannamma waits on a street corner for volunteers to gather before an evening of campaigning.

 

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Bharathi Kannamma’s volunteers secure a loudspeaker and sign to the top of their lone election vehicle before setting out on an evening of campaigning in Madurai.

 

With supporters during her election campaign
Kannamma greets one of her supporters during the campaign.

 

Nitya Rao is an independent Indian photojournalist based in Boston.  She is interested in documenting political and human interest stories, and is currently traveling across India to capture the mood of the country as it conducts its 16th Lok Sabha election. Her aim is to create a traveling exhibit, which will illustrate the changing face of politics in India. Nitya has worked as a reporter for Outlook, The Indian Express and Thomson Reuters, and holds a Masters degree in Photojournalism from Boston University. To find out where she’s heading next follow her @niftyindex

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